. Wednesday, September 26, 2018 .

I am excited to be making this post about my recent journey with Memrise!! 

Memrise and I have a love-love relationship, I use them pretty exclusively to study Japanese flashcards because I love their gamification system and leaderboard. Anki is another very popular resource for SRS based studying but I personally feel that Memrise suits my learning style a little better. 

I've tried to be as consistent as possible with logging in every day and doing my reviews and I started this personal challenge at the very tail end of June (about June 29th). I decided that I wanted to complete this course before the end of this year, and since I'm coming to a close on this course I decided to make this post now and just detail what I've gained from this experience and what I plan to do moving forward with my new knowledge.

The Course

In my previous post about Memrise sets for August, I mentioned that I was doing a JLPT N3 course. I'm using a course that was designed by the user TL RobWalsh. Here is a link to that course.

I checked out his other courses and he does teach JLPT N2 vocab course that I'm interested in. I might be using his course for my next round of studying because I like the way he's formatted levels. I found that I'm very particular with course format because if it doesn't feel organized I won't feel motivated to continue the course. 

My one gripe with this course is that it has a significant amount of words that I feel were placed in the wrong category. 

For example, when I was doing flashcards for words that I considered to be pretty abstract I came across the word ごめん and さようなら. I will be upfront say that I did ignore a large amount of words because I felt like a lot of words were misplaced from N4 and N5 but then again you have to keep in mind that there's no set list of words from the JLPT that are 'guarenteed' on the test. These study sets are made by arranging words from previous tests, so with that said I wanted to make it known that I did ignore a large amount of words that I knew already.

The course is broken up into 2 main types of level: 

A level that lists the word in its pure kana form, as well as the English meaning

A level that lists the Kanji for that word, with the English meaning.

I really enjoy this breakup because I feel like it gives me double the value in one course. I get the vocabulary word as well as the corresponding Kanji right after. It's a really great method that I chose to adopt into my own courses as well!

The Study Process

I started this course back in June, but my current Memrise streak for this course is 31. Why? I had a streak going for a while, but then we moved my sister into college. It was a pretty stressful day, and when I came home I had to take a nap, which turned into a full night's sleep by mistake. When I woke up in the morning, the damage was done. My Memrise streak was gone!

I was deflated, but I knew I had come too far to give up the course, so I kept pushing and started a new streak. My current longest streak on Memrise is about 54 days, so I hope that as I keep reviewing my words I'll make a new personal record.

I averaged about 135 reviews every day, which I always complete first before I start new material. I set my Memrise to give me reviews in intervals of 50 to make this a faster process, which is a tip I can't recommend enough. After completing all my reviews, I would start new words. I didn't have a methodology for how many new words I learned a day, but I would typically only learn new words for 30 minutes a day. I feel like after 30 minutes I couldn't retain information as well as I could have if I started with a fresh mind, so I would end for the day or continue later if I had free time.

The Test

I don't plan on taking the N3, but I do want to assess my level with a test, so I've decided to take the JCAT to gauge where I'm at with my language learning journey. The last time I took the JCAT was 1 year ago when I was preparing for Waseda, and I received a 202. I wasn't too happy with this score, but it just pushed me over the threshold to make it into level 4 at Waseda. 

My goal for this year is 250+. Anything about 250 would feel like growth for me, and show me I've made a lot of progress. The chart shown above doesn't list the N5, but I think if we were to update it to reflect that then I would have probably placed in the 'studying for N3' level at 202. There's a pretty big jump between 200 and 250 (Level 2 to Level 1??) that I'm hoping to make this time around.

Now that I have some experience with the test and I know how fast paced it is, I hope I'll feel more prepared this time around. I'll be doing a post about my JCAT results, good or bad, once I take the test!

. Monday, September 17, 2018 .

I didn't believe people when they said that college would fly by. 

When I was in freshman and sophomore year I felt like I was going to be in college forever.  Living on campus puts you in this strange bubble where the only thing you know is your campus and your college friends. By the time I became a senior, I became comfortable living in that bubble and I actively looked forward to going back to it at the end of every summer. Once I graduate in May, that's pretty much the end of my life as a kid. Once I step off campus the my start of my life as a working woman will begin its first chapter. 

Since I want to be a teacher I'm going to have summers off (which I'm glad about) and I already work during the school year so I don't think adjusting to a full-time job will be that much different. 

However, I'm going to miss school as a structure. I'm going to miss being evaluated by tests and having to study and take classes that you don't really care about just because you want to sit in a classroom and get credits for something and maybe learn something. It's going to be weird to wake up and do the same exact thing every day for seemingly forever. It sounds kind of depressing... 

There's also the upside that once I get out of school I will be completely free to do whatever I want. I'll be able to work longer hours so I can make more money and start doing things that I want to do whenever I have the free time to do it. I'm excited to see where my future will take me and where I'll be next summer whether I'll be working in China or working here. I used to always think it was a good thing that I could go anywhere and do anything after college but having this whole open mindset and no exact direction is turning into something that's new and frightening. The ability to go anywhere used to be coveted and now that I have it I don't really know what I want to do with it. 

I know two big things that are true. 

Number one: Anywhere Amanda goes I will follow. Vincent once said that a friend of mine had 'found her people' when we started seeing her less and less because she entered a new friend group. At first, I was jealous but now I'm really happy for her. I can finally relate because Amanda is 'my people' (er, I guess 'my person'?). I would follow her to the ends of the Earth if that meant staying together. 

Number two: I want to travel and try things I've never done before. I want to go on trips or live somewhere temporarily or just do something to put myself outside of my comfort zone. I don't want to do it alone though. I'm praying that Amanda or Vincent can come with me so that we can all adventure together. At the end of the day, I don't know if I want to stay in New York or even America at all, I just know I want to go and experience everything I can before I settle down and build my life.

I'm ready to jump into senior year and what is to come, so here's a scrapbook/ collection of my summer and my first few days back at school. I've been really into the app Huji Cam (also called Kuji Cam) these days, so a lot of my photos have that disposable camera feel to them! It's free on the Google Play store :)

. Wednesday, August 15, 2018 .

I've decided to take the plunge and start dialing and creating my own Memrise sets.  I took a stab at it about a year ago when I tried to make a course for a class I was taking,  but for some reason, I couldn't make my courses look as fancy or nice as the others that were pre-made by users.  However, I recently picked up one of the volumes of manga that I bought when I was in Hokkaido and decided that I would do my best to finish it.  I didn't expect that I would finish it so quickly though,  and I managed to wrap up the whole book in only 2 days!  I talked about my studying methods and I came to reading books in this video:

In this video, I basically detailed my study method for reading: take a highlighter to a book and highlight all the words I don't know.  I then use a dictionary app such as Jisho.org to search the words and understand the meanings.

I wanted to take that method a step further and really make sure that I retain the vocabulary from whatever I read, so I've decided that this time when I open my book I should also create a corresponding Memrise course. Despite being someone who usually hates reading, I flew through this book with a surprising amount of ease, and it felt AWESOME.  If you're a language learner you know how awesome it feels to understand everything on a page,  so I was operating off of that high!

Here is my first set which is volume 1 of the manga. (Click for link to set) 

It contains a little over a hundred words with their readings, kanji, and English meaning.  I also created levels in which it breaks up new words via chapter, so if you actually have the book you can follow along. The words go in order of the book's pages! Lastly, I added a feature where the course tests you on the Kanji as well as the reading for each Level.

All the voice recordings are my own voice!

For the first set Level 1 is a bit long because I was just starting to read so my vocab wasn't great, just a warning! lol

The second course is for the second volume of the manga! (Click for link to set)

The same things apply in regards to levels, whats offered inside the course, and voice recordings. I just finished doing all the voiceovers for the audio yesterday, so I hope you enjoy them and that they aid in the learning process! I feel like this volume has more digestible levels, as compared to level 1 in the first set.

Click here for this set!

Since I did two volumes of this manga already I was apprehensive to do another one because I felt like all the words would just repeat. While I was in the city with some friends I spotted I caught my eye so I decided to pick it up. 
I just designed this course recently so please comment below if there are any mistakes that you find and I will correct them as soon as possible!

I think I'm starting to get a hang of creating courses so I'm really excited for what the future holds regarding making more sets! As you may notice for my screenshots, I really haven't begun to study my self-made sets because I've been focusing on another course. I'm currently doing a JLPT N3 course that has a little bit over 3.5k words. 

My goal for the rest of the year is to completely finish this course so that I can properly say I'm studying for N2 and then I can focus on picking up words from my literary adventures :)

I hope these sets can be helpful to your studies and look out for more sets created by me in the future!

. Sunday, July 29, 2018 .

As of today, I am officially 21 years old.

I spent the last week or so on vacation with my boyfriend visiting his family down in South Carolina. I had a lot of fun but I forgot to bring my camera charger so I couldn't capture many moments. We stayed there until the 27th and then flew back to CT. Prior to my birthday, I made a reservation at Bodhi Vegetarian down in Chinatown of NYC. 

I originally wanted to have my birthday party in the same location that I had it last year but the restaurant was being pretty difficult so I looked for some vegan alternatives in another area! My good friend Megan drove over 4 hours to come down to my birthday party, which really touched me. 

Me and Megan
This was my birthday outfit! A red dress from Forever21.
Can you tell I'm obsessed with this filter? Vincent looks too cute.

Her, Vincent and I spent some time together before the party and you could see it in the vlog that's posted down below. 

We met up with my friend Jennie at the train station and Charis at Grand Central. The train had some delays so we ended up getting to Grand Central kind of late so we had to New York style speedwalk to get to the restaurant. If you know me, you know that I'm always early for everything, so being late for my own birthday party was pretty anxiety-inducing! But everything ended up alright and as I sat down at the table all my friends began pouring in.

I didn't know this beforehand but the table we were sitting at rotated in the middle so that we can pass dishes around which I thought was really cool. We decided to do more of a dim-sum style than individual meals, which was awesome because you could just move the table around to grab a bite of something else. One of my biggest worries was that my friend groups wouldn't be able to mesh well. This was the first time that my boyfriend was meeting most of my friends, and I knew that there was going to be a language barrier of some sort since I tend to switch between English and Japanese pretty randomly when I'm with my Japanese friends. 


To my surprise, things went so well that it made me feel silly for even worrying in the first place. Everyone clicked really easily and there was one point in the party where I just sat back and watched everyone talk to each other.  It was a really awesome moment of pure happiness and comfort.  I feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing friends surrounding me and I have so much positivity towards this year!! In the photos above, my friends acted like paparazzi and took a ton of photos. I couldn't help but smile :)

Jennie x Me
Charis x Me

 Turning 21 almost feels like a New Years celebration.  I wouldn't necessarily say I feel different but I do feel like I have a more focused sense of purpose and direction than I did one year ago.  I feel like my head is clear and my confidence is up. I'm in the springtime of my life and I'm enjoying every second of it!

After we had dinner we went to a local vegan ice cream place and I had the most amazing ice cream I've ever had: cookie crumble strawberry jam. Charis found the place so I don't recall the name, but it's in my video so if you know where this place is I highly recommend that you visit!! It was the best ice cream I've ever had in my life, vegan or otherwise!

shamless ice cream eating

Then, the night finally came to a close as we rode the train back home. Vincent and Megan both stayed over, and they wished me a happy birthday the second the clock struck 12.  A perfect end to a perfect birthday celebration!! 

. Wednesday, May 30, 2018 .
As you may have noticed, I haven't been writing as much as I used to on this blog. I used to have this idea in my mind that I needed to update every 3 days to keep people's interest, but I realize now that by doing so I wasn't making content I was proud of. I realize that it should be less about the volume of the content that I produce and more about the quality of what I put out there. 

For a short period of time, my priorities were in the wrong order: I cared more about the number of page views I was getting rather than whether or not a post really meant something to me. My original purpose of this blog was to document my life and study abroad, and I want to stay with that theme because I feel that's being true to myself. My goal for the rest of this year is to place less pressure on myself and create blog posts that I would want to read 5, 10 years down the line.

With this in mind, I'm finally making a post about what's been going on in my life recently, along with some camera shots that I've taken with my new camera. 

New Camera

About a month ago I purchased the Sony A5000 again after my old one sadly broke. If you are just getting into photography, blogging or vlogging I definitely recommend this camera for you. It doesn't break the bank as it only comes in at around $250. I've found that the audio and video quality are incredible, and I haven't had any issues! I'll admit it, it was my own fault the camera broke. I'm trying to be more gentle with this one!

Since getting my camera I've focused more on actually taking photos instead of uploading them. I've been taking more photos that I keep to myself instead of posting on social media platforms. I've been trying to do some more experimental photography and I've also been working on photography in the realm of documenting my everyday life.

Being wacky with Charis

Social Media Cleanse

'Cleanse' is a super trendy word these days but I feel like that's exactly what I've done recently. About a month ago I decided to delete my Snapchat account. I noticed that I was never using it and that it just kind of sat there on my phone taking up space, so I decided to end it all and finally delete it. If I'm being totally honest, sometimes I forget that Snapchat even exists. These days a lot of other social media platforms have the element of a "story" to them so I don't find myself missing Snapchat.

After my 'cleansing' member of deleting Snapchat, I decided to dive right into a full social media cleanse, in which I've stayed away from platforms like Facebook or Twitter. I found that these platforms didn't contribute positively to my life and instead promoted me consuming pointless media whenever I had a free moment. 

I found that my time on Instagram was usually spent wishing that I had certain things or looked a certain way. In the end, I chose to keep these platforms because they help me connect with others and promote my blog but I've been learning how to use them in a healthier way. 

I no longer spend time watching people's "stories". I no longer send a tweet unless I feel like it's something that I feel is important to share. I'm actively trying to be mindful of my actions, which means I need to be mindful of my blogging as well. I'll never be the type of person that posts on their Instagram story every day. I won't be the person that posts a Facebook status or checks in somewhere when I go out. 

I'm not saying that type of person is wrong in any way (you do you!), but I know that's just not how I want to use my social media. 

I posted these two pretty shots of Coraline!

A New Job

Another big reason as to why haven't been blogging as much as I used to is because I'm focusing on my new job. I started working with a new company called TAL (VIPX, Le Waijiao, etc) about 15 days ago. I have to say it's one of the most intense interview experiences I've ever had, all in all, lasting about a week including training sessions. 

The job is more intense than my older teaching position but I'm realizing now that that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Through this job, I'm learning that your attitude and motivation towards something can entirely change your perspective of how daunting a task may be. The first week I started working I had my mind made up that this job was way too stressful, but after sticking out a little longer I realize that my happiness in this position is entirely how I view it, so I'm working to adopt a more positive attitude to make work more fun! 

A New Experience

Very recently, I started adventuring alone. 

Now anyone that knows me knows that I'm a huge extrovert! I'm not the type of person who enjoys doing social activities by myself, but I had a passing thought that I really wanted to branch out and explore where I live, New York.

So: here's my big moment. About 2 weeks ago I went into the city alone for the first time. I've traveled to New York City dozens of times before, but this was the first time that I was going to New York City totally alone. I know, this may sound ridiculous because I'm 20 years old doing something alone for the first time, but this was a really big step for me! 

I went to a Japanese conversation meetup and met a lot of great people. I had such a great experience that I decided to do the same thing the next week!

I had a mindful moment while I was in the city last Friday. It was about 10 pm and I looked up to the sky as I was walking through the city streets. I saw the lights all around me and had this thought floating around in my mind. I thought "I feel so free right now". At that moment, this overwhelming feeling of happiness, self-assurance, and gratefulness just washed over me. I felt so lucky to be myself. I felt so happy just to be me. 

My Sister

My beautiful sister turned 18 this month and graduated high school. We were practicing some makeup looks for prom and I snapped this beautiful picture of her. This has got to be my favorite shot from this month. Happy 18th to the best sister I could have asked for.

Makeup practicing for Prom

That's all to share for now. I hope you have a beautiful day!